The Center on the Family in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources announced that the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Hawaiʻi 24th in key indicators of child well-being. The Center on the Family serves as the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate.
“We’re encouraged by the gains made in the education domain in recent years, especially the improvements seen in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math proficiency,” said Ivette Rodriguez Stern, director of Hawaiʻi KIDS COUNT. “However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. When compared with other states, Hawaiʻi ranks near the bottom third in the education domain.”
This year’s findings also emphasize that, while the recession ended in the summer of 2009, many families across the country and in Hawaiʻi have continued to struggle in its wake. In 2010, 30 percent of children under 18 in Hawaiʻi had parents without secure employment, an increase from 26 percent in 2008.
Hawaiʻi also has one of the highest rates of children living in households with a housing cost burden (i.e., where more than 30 percent of monthly household income is spent on rent, mortgage, taxes, insurance or related expenses), which increased from 37 percent in 2005 to 46 percent in 2010.
“When compared with other states, Hawaiʻi ranks somewhere in the middle on overall child well-being, indicating that much more can and needs to be done to create a better future for Hawaiʻi’s children,” said Interim Director of the Center on the Family Grace Fong. “We need to focus our attention on the future by strengthening family economic opportunity and building supportive communities that nurture our children and families.”
KIDS Count 2012 Data Book highlights
- All economic well-being conditions measured—namely, children living in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high cost burden, and teens not in school and not working—have worsened over the past several years.
- There were some improvements in the area of education. The percentage of fourth-graders not proficient in reading and the percentage of eighth-graders not proficient in math both decreased between 2005–11. There were also more 3- to 4-year-olds attending preschool toward the end of the decade than in the preceding years. The percentage of high school students not graduating on time, however, increased, though only slightly, in recent years.
- In recent years, two of the health conditions measured showed little change (percentage of low-birthweight babies) to no change (percentage of children without health insurance). It is worth noting that Hawaiʻi has among the lowest rates of children without health insurance. The child and teen death rate and the percentage of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs worsened during the period examined.
- In the area of family and community well-being, there has been an increase in the percentage of children in single-parent families, the teen birth rate, and the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas. The percentage of children in families in which the household head lacks a high school diploma has shown a slight improvement.
Adapted from a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa news release.